Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has been sanctioned by several governments since Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered his troops to invade Ukraine nearly two months ago.
Roman Abramovich’s luxury estate on the Caribbean island of St Barts and his £90m chateau are among the latest assets to be seized by the authorities.
The Chelsea owner is among several Russian oligarchs to be sanctioned by France. Several governments, including Boris Johnson’s cabinet, have sanctioned Abramovich in recent weeks for allegedly having ties to Vladimir Putin, something which he denies.
Russian President Putin is currently waging a bloody and unprovoked war in neighbouring Ukraine. Abramovich is taking part in peace talks and was reportedly poisoned at a meeting last month, suffering peeling skin and temporary blindness, with Russian hardliners said to be those behind the alleged attack.
France has seized more than £20billion worth of cash and property belonging to Russian oligarchs, as confirmed by the Economy and Finance Ministry in Paris on Wednesday. Abramovich owns 12 of these properties, denying him the chance to sell or rent them. Governments are concerned oligarchs will use revenue generated by assets to fund the Russian war machine.
“They include homes, superyachts and helicopters, and add up to well over 25 billion euros,” said a ministerial source. “There are 33 properties that have been frozen, including a dozen belonging to Roman Abramovich. It is all part of the programme of sanctions being brought against the Russian Federation in response to its invasion of Ukraine.”
Most of Abramovich’s properties were bought using specially created French companies. They include Chateau de la Croe – his villa in Cap d’Antibes, a resort town located near Cannes – which was once the Riviera holiday home of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
The Chelsea chief spent £30m restoring the chateau and it’s now estimated to be worth £90m, according to local estate agents. He put a 15 meter swimming pool on the roof – and built a gym and home cinema in the basement.
Property has also been frozen in the Alpine ski resort of Meribel, as well as other luxurious Riviera resorts – such as Saint-Tropez and Cannes.
Abramovich is believed to be residing in Moscow amid the sanctions. He put Chelsea up for sale shortly before the sanctions were announced, with four bidders remaining in the race: Chicago Cubs owners the Ricketts family; American businessman Todd Boehly; Boston Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca; and a British-based consortium led by Martin Broughton and Sebastian Coe.
The Blues are currently operating under a special license due to Abramovich’s sanctions – severely limiting their revenue streams and putting them at risk of financial collapse. A preferred bidder is expected to be announced later this month.